4 Nutrients that Will Stimulate Growth in Adolescence

We're going to show you which nutrients shouldn't be missing in the diet during adolescence to achieve optimal growth and development during this period. Get to know them!
4 Nutrients that Will Stimulate Growth in Adolescence
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 25 August, 2022

To stimulate growth in adolescence, it’s essential to ensure you include certain nutrients in sufficient quantities. If not, then you could experience problems. Even the incidence of chronic and complex pathologies would increase. Keep reading as we’ll tell you everything you need to know in this regard.

However, before we begin, we must emphasize that one of the keys to growth in adolescence is physical exercise. Strength work will stimulate good muscle function and will ensure a higher bone mineral density, which, in the medium term, will result in a lower risk of fractures. This can prevent osteoporosis.

The nutrients that will stimulate growth in adolescence

We’re going to tell you about the nutrients that will stimulate growth in adolescence. But first, we must emphasize that a varied and slightly hypercaloric diet will be decisive. If there’s an energy deficit, tissue development will be conditioned.

1. Proteins

Proteins are nutrients par excellence. They ensure the growth and repair of muscles after intense effort.

It’s key to consume them in adequate doses, although many people fail on this point. At least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight per day should be maintained in sedentary people.

But, in young athletes, these needs can easily double or triple. This is evidenced by research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

However, at least half of the dietary proteins must be of high biological value, i.e. of animal origin. These have all the essential amino acids in them and have a high digestibility score.

A woman running.
Adolescents who exercise a lot should have high doses of protein on a daily basis.

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin through exposure to sunlight. It’s also found in some foods, such as oily fish, but in scarce quantities.

The bad news is that it has been shown that most of the population is deficient in this nutrient, which conditions physiological processes that take place internally.

This element affects muscle strength, the capacity for hypertrophy, and even growth. In fact, it’s considered essential in the metabolism of calcium in the bones. It enhances the absorption of the mineral and its subsequent fixation in the tissue.

Maintaining values in optimal ranges is considered decisive in preventing chronic and complex problems, such as osteoporosis.

3. Fats

Fats are necessary for many processes that occur daily in the body. However, their restriction in the diet has been promoted for many years. This is negative for health, as it can alter the hormonal environment, reducing testosterone production in adolescents.

However, not all fats are of good quality. Generally speaking, it’s advisable to limit trans fats, as they increase the levels of inflammation in the body.

Their consumption is related to a higher incidence of chronic and complex pathologies. Instead, cis-type fatty acids should be consumed, regardless of whether they have double bonds in their structure or not.

It should also be noted that the most recent evidence is in favor of emphasizing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. These elements modulate inflammatory levels and protect against the development of many chronic diseases. They’re found mainly in oily fish, so it’s crucial to include seafood products in the diet on a regular basis.

4. Carbohydrates

Although in some sedentary adults it may be a good idea to partially restrict carbohydrate intake, this isn’t a good idea in adolescents and children. These are nutrients that stimulate the most anabolic pathways in the body, so they need to be in the daily diet to ensure proper growth.

Some carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates stimulate anabolic pathways in adolescents and contribute to tissue growth.

Priority should always be given to complex carbohydrates, accompanied by a good amount of fiber.

Include nutrients in the diet that will stimulate growth in adolescence

There are a number of nutrients that will stimulate growth in adolescence, so it’s important to ensure that requirements are met on a regular basis. If not, inefficiencies in physiology may be experienced. To prevent this, there’s nothing better than a varied and slightly hypercaloric diet.

It should be noted that not only diet matters when it comes to growth and development. Take note of our recommendation regarding exercise above.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Jäger, R., Kerksick, C. M., Campbell, B. I., Cribb, P. J., Wells, S. D., Skwiat, T. M., Purpura, M., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Ferrando, A. A., Arent, S. M., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Stout, J. R., Arciero, P. J., Ormsbee, M. J., Taylor, L. W., Wilborn, C. D., Kalman, D. S., Kreider, R. B., Willoughby, D. S., Hoffman, J. R., … Antonio, J. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition14, 20. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8
  • Holick M. F. (2017). The vitamin D deficiency pandemic: Approaches for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Reviews in endocrine & metabolic disorders18(2), 153–165. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11154-017-9424-1
  • Calder P. C. (2017). Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: from molecules to man. Biochemical Society transactions45(5), 1105–1115. https://doi.org/10.1042/BST20160474

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.